Fr. Alfredo Olvera Ledezma, C.S.C., continues our week of exploring our missionary work in México by introducing us to the parish of Nuestra Madre Santísima de La Luz. Affectionately known as “La Luz”, this thriving and dynamic parish is at the heart of the Holy Cross mission in México, as it also serves as the home of our formation programs in the country.
La Luz parish in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, has been entrusted to the Congregation of Holy Cross since 1996, when it was first erected as a parish. Even before that, La Luz was in the care of Holy Cross as a chapel of our neighbor, Saint Thomas Moore parish, which we also staffed for several years before agreeing to take on La Luz, the poorer part of the original parish bounds.
From the beginning then, La Luz has been one our primary apostolates here in Mexico. It is a very important place for all of us. The parish is the place where we as Holy Cross religious publicly devote our lives to God in service of His people. It is here, in this place, where we renew our vows and where we also profess them perpetually. It is here, in this place, where we grow as men devoted to our vocation and where we draw strength from a community of true and devoted friends who support for our ministry.
We even have a prayer group, created by Fr. Marin Hernandez, C.S.C., that is dedicated to pray for each religious here in Mexico. It is for these and many other reasons that we have such a great appreciation for this community parish.
Personally, I have been here about a year and a half as a priest, after having been ordained by Msgr. Jorge Cavazos, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Monterrey. Here in the La Luz, at the foot of the altar, Bishop Cavazos laid on his hands in the ancient rite of ordination. At that point my Provincial Superior, Fr. David Tyson, C.S.C., named me Parochial Vicar for La Luz. As my first assignment as a priest, La Luz has a dear place in my heart as an individual, not just as a part of the wider Holy Cross community.
In just a few words, I would describe our parish as a joyful, active community. I have the privilege of saying that there are many devoted people of faith here, people who are truly signs of the Kingdom of God in our world. There are many who contribute their time, talent and treasure each weekend in the celebration of the Eucharist. This includes many parish groups of all ages: children, teens, young adults and, shall we say, those who have more experience. I feel very blessed to be serving here in this diverse parish.
I believe that the parishioners here really appreciate the pastoral care that our Congregation devotes to this place and to them. There are many Holy Cross religious we can point to as fine examples of devoted servant leadership: Fr. Len Collins, C.S.C., Fr. Dan Panchot, C.S.C., Fr. Marin Hernandez, C.S.C., Fr. Paulino Ines, C.S.C., Fr. Aaron Michka, C.S.C., and of course our previous pastor, Fr. Pete Logsdon, C.S.C., who served here for over 20 years. Today we are led by our new pastor, Fr. John Herman, C.S.C. Like the parishioners themselves, I truly believe that many here see in these religious signs of Christ among us.
Clearly we have also had to face the many challenges of parish ministry, first among them being the violence that currently grips our entire country. Our parish has sadly not been spared this wave of violence that has destroyed the lives of so many young people and families. However, we press on and “as disciples of Jesus we stand side by side with all people. Like them we are burdened by the same struggles and beset by the same weaknesses; like them we are made new by the same Lord’s love; like them we hope for a world where justice and love prevail” (Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy cross, 2:12).
As Holy Cross religious we are men of hope, and the situation in which we live does not discourage us. On the contrary, we feel inspired to continue giving our lives to establish the Kingdom of God in our world despite these tragic conditions we experience every day. As a community of religious standing with the people of our parish, we can truly say, “Ave crux, spes unica – Hail the Cross, our only hope.”